Professor Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s most renown scientists has recently reported that “the development of full artificial intelligence (AI) could spell the end of the human race”, according to an interview with the BBC.
The 72 year old theoretical physicist has a amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which is a neurodegenerative disorder that makes it difficult for him to speak. Which is why Intel teamed up with Swiftkey to produce a learning machine that learns how the professor recognizes language and suggests the words he wants to say next, without him ever uttering a word. Instead, he writes a sentence using one muscle on the inside of his check, which is then analyzed by a voice processor. He uses the Intel infrared sensor attached to his glasses which he controls with his cheek. He selects letters, and then the predictive Swiftkey text offers him a complete word. With the new technology, he only needs to insert individual characters for about 20%, which has doubled his writing speed, which is less than a word a minute after his loss of his hands. Despite being in partnership with Intel for over 25 years, this will be his first upgrade in over 20 years.
The new software brought about comments on the exponential growth of AI in the past couple decades. Hawking “fears the consequences of creating something that can match or surpass humans”, or a machine that would eventually be able to re-design or “evolve” on its own, where humans, who evolve biologically, would not be able to keep up with AI speed.
Meanwhile, Hawking, who is known for his trademark robotic voice, is grateful for his upgrade but says, “It has become my trademark, and I wouldn't change it for a more natural voice with a British accent. I'm told that children who need a computer voice, want one like mine”.